Once your worker’s compensation case is settled, you may think that all matters relating to your workplace injury or condition have been finalized. However, you may find that your injuries worsen over time and that you are experiencing symptoms that were not present at the time of your original claim.
Fortunately, you may be able to reopen your worker’s compensation claim to request additional authorized medical treatment or recover additional benefits. Reopening your worker’s compensation claim is only an option in certain situations and must be done within a certain time frame.
Can my claim be reopened?
If your case was settled under N.J.S.A. Sec. 34-15-20, the lump sum award you received was considered a full settlement. In other words, by agreeing to settle the matter, you gave up your right to reopen the case relating to your original workplace accident. Also, keep in mind that there is a possibility that your worsened condition relates to a different workplace accident or workplace condition, or relates to an accident that occurred outside of the workplace. In such cases, you will likely not be able to reopen your claim.
Reopening a claim
If your workers’ compensation attorney determines that your claim can be reopened, you will have two years from the date your last award payment was received or from the date of your last authorized medical treatment.
If you are within this time frame, you can reopen your claim if:
- Your medical condition has worsened, and you need additional medical treatment.
- Your medical condition has worsened and has made it significantly more difficult to earn income or seek employment.
- Your medical condition has worsened to the point of permanent disability, making it impossible for you to work/earn income.
If your symptoms are getting worse after a workplace injury or chemical exposure, it may be in your best interest to discuss reopening your claim with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area.